Please critique my Portfolio

Hi Core77 community. I am asking for your help in reviewing my portfolio.

A brief background: I am a recent graduate with 2 years experience under my belt, and I am looking for my next opportunity. I love softgoods and want to focus my career in that direction, although my work experience is in interaction design and kiosk hardware.

I am looking for any constructive criticism that will help me improve. Lacking skills, project breadth, project questions, etc…

Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to review.


Any help is appreciated, even if you need to rip it apart. It’s the only way I’ll get better.


I was wondering if its possible to use less images at the early stages of projects and use more images at the end of them.

You should improve your sketching skills (less sketches but more clearly information on each one) & your modelling (both in physical and digital).

I miss eye candy images, those that integrate product, user and your very great visual taste.

Keep it on !!.

Thanks MoShake! I truly appreciate the feedback.

I will continue to work on my sketches. As for my rendering, I think my models are solid, but I may need to try a new rendering program. I’ve been using PhotoView 360 and Keyshot, but sometimes PhotoView just looks blah. Any suggestion for rendering programs that work with SolidWorks?

I TOTALLY agree, I need more Eye Candy!

I think your sketches look totally fine and your marker work does a pretty good job at communicating your work.
Personally, I don’t think that is what would hold you back.
Maybe you could explore some photoshop render techniques for your soft goods? Looks at some great footwear sketches here on Core for inspiration, some great eye candy there.

In terms of presentation, what popped out to me is the resolution quality of your renders, more so then the quality of the renders themselves. Make sure everything is at an adequate res when you put it in. Slides 20, 21 would be examples. Those are pixelated and fuzzy.

The I’d definitely would run almost all images you have through Photoshop and do some color correction. Rouge bag would benefit from a little PS love. It appears very shiny which in mind mind cheapens the product. Some of that is product photography that probably wasn’t the most professional but you can do a lot in post to improve.
Same goes for Lotus. In desperate need of a little pop.

On a similar note, the Imbricate lady has a very suspect crotchular area… I might take another pass on that render or actually, stylize it more. It is a little strange and disturbing as is.

Lastly, I am not certain I dig the “every person, every product” strategy to frame your portfolio. It seems a little too narrow for a lot of products. If I can’t connect to the person, I won’t even consider the product, purely based on the fact that I assume it’s not for me.
I think, where appropriate, you can still have a target audience in your presentation, just not sure it should be so front and center.

The way to navigate the portfolio is a bit odd. I understand after reading it a first time that you decided to separate your projects by different users but on a first read, it looked like all the users introduced were for the same project so you might want to indicate that somehow. Also, what I’d really appreciate is a bit more of a “title” page on each project to introduce me to what it is (with name/image if possible) so I know at what point I’m at so maybe modify the first page of each project to feature the project more than the person (as it stands looks like I’m being introduced to a person).

I would also put a quick introductory page before everything. Maybe introduce yourself quickly and put your design philosophy alongside the page where you introduce the whole “behind every person there is a project”. I feel that might flow better at least to show that your philosophy is user-centered design.

I think sketches-wise you’re fine, but I agree that you need more eye candy. Usually, people will open up each project with a nice “wow-shot” so people instantly understand what the project is and then you go into the details of how you got there. Either Photoshop, photography or CAD rendering is fine, but try and work on at least having a single nice one per project. Solidworks/Keyshot combo for CAD is pretty standard so I don’t think you need anything else, just play with Keyshot a bit (materials, textures, lighting) to try and get a nice effect.

One last thing I would recommend is to try and condense the pages. There’s lots of process happening, but it’s very lengthy and split up so it’s a bit of a chore to go through. You have roughly 20 pages for the first project and that’s a lot. I know there’s 2 years’ worth of work in that project and you want to show it, but as readers, we don’t necessarily need to know every intricacy of the project so you can combine certain elements and skip others. For example, I feel that describing the LED lane housing and how to manage exceptions are a bit excessive for a first-time reader to know.
I’d try and keep it at 1 pages of sketches, 1 maybe 2 pages of prototypes (depending how many iterations there were) and within 3 pages for the final design. I feel that having 2 pages for each user is a bit excessive considering one page only has an image and a quote; you could probably condense those into a single page.

There’s good work and process, just that the way it’s presented I feel is what falls short.

Oh and one more thing, make sure to avoid hyphenated words in your text! I noticed a few and it’s just a small quirk you’d rather avoid for a better presentation.

Love you guys!! This is the stuff I was hoping for!

bepster, Thank you for the sketch compliment - means a lot. I do have an issue compressing my images. I used InDesign and export as PDF print to Smallest File Size. It’s supposed to compression to 150 dpi, but I feel like when I compress it, some of the images get fuzzy. I will work on replacing these images for other, more quality images, but in the mean time, am I compressing the way I should be?

Also I will do some more editing in Photoshop. Many of the photos, as you said, are just poor quality from school when I didn’t realize how important quality photos are. And I’ll fix the crotch area on Imbricate snicker - never saw it like that until you mentioned it.

christodang, I totally agree that maybe I should look into a new story for my layout. This is by far my weakest area, which is one of the main reasons that I asked for Core77’s help. I have been drooling over some other really nice portfolio’s and trying to figure out where mine lacks, and presentation is by far the biggest problem. I will work on condensing pages, adding a captivating first image, and getting rid of hyphenated words.

I genuinely appreciate the feedback and take your recommendations to heart. Thank you both!

While I may not necessarily be the guy to give some real hardcore constructive criticism here, I will do my best to give you my 2 cents on what I know from seeing many really good portfolios and what my first impressions were right off the bat.

  1. First is the graphic content. Even though our field is within products, I think its very important to adopt good graphic design skills. Even if its a far reach try to ask for a graphic designers help, It’ll do wonders for your work. Keep in mind that employers will spend less than 2 minutes tops going through your portfolio (2 full minutes if you’re lucky). So if your pages and content don’t hook your viewer the instant they open that first page, consider your work to be with the rest of the lower percentile.

  2. Second, remember your portfolio is a story, how is yours unique and interesting? You do have the main users story in mind but It seems too redundant. If you were to read a book and every chapter in that book started out exactly the same way would you want to keep reading or put it down? Stories are linear and while each project has its own, design them around your portfolio so that as a whole your portfolio reads as one flowing story from the first page to last. Overall you should just try to be more dynamic in how you present your info and work.

  3. I would get your work on either coroflot or behance or I would create a website. Dropbox just isn’t as solid of a way to present your work and may take points off immediately. Look at other peoples portfolios that are really good and use that as a benchmark. Identify how they use their layout and placement skills to turn nice sketches and renderings into a beautifully crafted page or money shot. As others above have said your sketches aren’t bad (could use work if we want to get real critical), they just need to be presented better. Most importantly though, always let your work speak for itself. Not the graphic elements and words or any other possible clutter (simplistic or not) you may want to throw in. Its always better to have white space than unnecessary graphic elements that don’t really have any purpose of being there.

Also if you haven’t already, read HireMe. Really amazing book and it’ll give you nearly everything you need to know about portfolios

Thank you for your advice and comments tr315Design!

I will admit, I know I struggle with my graphics and visual story. There is something there that doesn’t quite click in my mind. I think of it as learning a new talent - When you first start something, you get really good quickly and then a plateau happens before you start getting better again. I think I’m in my portfolio layout plateau, and practice (on my part) and feedback will get me to the next level.

I agree having a website and coroflot page are better for this sort of thing, but I think interviews and one-on-one’s work better when there is a printed version, which is why I chose to post it through dropbox. It’s easier to gather around a laid out booklet than a tablet or a computer during an interview, and I want to print something worthy of being printed.

I have read HireMe, several times, and I will flip through it again.

I do have a coroflot page!! There is a lot of the same content, but there are a few other projects, sketches, and graphic design stuff. I update it regularly. Feel free to check it out.

Again, thanks for the valuable feedback!

No problemo and trust me i’m in the same position. I myself, am somewhat unsatisfied with my portfolio and am currently in the process of reworking it to get it at a level I feel is at least satisfactory. Portfolios are no easy task and is a continuous project in itself!